From the Columbia Police Department – At approximately 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, a Columbia Police officer on patrol in the 2100 block of Bull Street detected a strong odor of smoke and saw a dense layer of fog hovering in the area.
Columbia Fire Department crews were already approaching the scene of the Babcock Building, owned by Clachan Properties to extinguish the 3-alarm blaze. Firefighters found flames coming from the basement area and quickly requested a full structure fire response. The fire burned the historic building’s roof, including the iconic dome and caused several structural collapses inside.
Several persons of interest, who were seen on the site in surveillance video, have been identified, and are being interviewed.
In all, more than 50 firefighters with the aid of 14 firetrucks, along with support from the Fort Jackson Fire Department worked courageously to extinguish the massive and quickly-spreading flames for more than ten hours.
During the operation, two CFD firefighters suffered minor injuries when debris from the building fell on top of them. One firefighter who was transported to a local hospital has been treated and released.
While estimates are still being determined, the fire likely caused millions of dollars’ worth of damages to the landmark.
The Columbia Police and Fire Departments, CFD Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating the cause and origin of the fire.